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Sister Trillium, a creative reuse nonprofit founded by Zoe Bryant, Allison Paul and Marie Hertzler, began selling secondhand art supplies at the Yellow Springs Farmer’s market on Saturday, April 22. Paul, Bryant and Hertzler, pictured left to right, inventoried and organized the donated supplies they’ve accumulated for resale. (Photo by Jessica Thomas)

‘Sister Trillium’ group to recycle art supplies

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A cardboard tube, a jar of buttons, a half-used tube of paint — to one person, these are the leftovers from a project; to others, the missing piece of a new artistic venture.

Sister Trillium, a recently formed nonprofit started by local creators Zoe Bryant, Allison Paul and Marie Hertzler, seeks to extend the life of art supplies through collecting unused supplies and selling them at a discounted rate at the Yellow Springs Farmers’ Market.

The News recently spoke with Bryant, Paul and Hertzler, who explained that the vision behind a local creative reuse center came from other models they’d visited in Cincinnati and the Cleveland area.

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“Allison and I were familiar with a creative reuse center in Cincinnati called Indigo Hippo,” Bryant said. “The last time I was there, I wondered why we didn’t have something like that locally.”

So Bryant and Paul approached Hertzler, who had recently joined the Yellow Springs Arts Council to ask if the Arts Council would support their venture.

“She was so excited and supportive,” Bryant said.

Hertzler said she brought the idea to the Arts Council, whose members were “very excited” about the idea.

The group also approached the Yellow Springs Community Foundation, which offered technical support and access to the foundation’s website, where Sister Trillium can garner monetary support to pay for space at the farmers market and other expenses.

“That’s something that I love about Yellow Springs,” Paul said. “We’re not having to make this really tough pitch. The values are already here. It’s about gathering the momentum to then uplift and make the project happen.”

According to Bryant, Sister Trillium will be stocked with donations from community members, some who have dedicated studio space that may need clearing or decluttering, and others who have leftover supplies from a single project.

“I think [creative reuse] is in alignment with our community’s values of diversity, accessibility kind of being a really important part of keeping diversity and our value of creativity,” Bryant said.

Hertzler said, to her, a creative reuse center allows artists to let go of materials they are not ready to throw away.

“[People] are  like, ‘I’m so glad I can let go of these things, these beautiful treasures we’ve been keeping because we can’t bear to let them go,’” Hertzler said. “Once people find that there’s an organization that  is going to take care of these items, and help pass them on to somebody else, they’re so pleased.”

According to Paul and Hertzler, the types of materials that have been donated so far have varied. While some donors have curated boxes of items, others have allowed Sister Trillium’s members to enter their art space and choose items to resell.

“We’ve received paper journals that are just pristine, materials from a fiber artist, paper of all weights and sizes,” Hertzler said.

“And jewelry!” Paul added, “We’ve received pieces that could be worn as-is or could be taken apart and repurposed.” 

Bryant said the idea is that any item that could be used in a creative way can be donated to Sister Trillium.

“We won’t really take egg cartons and things like that, but I don’t think people initially think about more industrial [materials] or building supplies that we could take, like spare hinges and big, heavy duty packaging tubes. Different things that can be used in a sculptural way,” Bryant said.

Asked about their space at the local farmers market, Paul said they liked the idea of the farmers market as a gathering space and the organizers of the market enthusiastically welcomed their pop-up.

“When I talked to Michele [Burns, market coordinator] she was like, ‘Absolutely, we’ve been wanting something like [an art supply vendor], especially that kind of craft activity component,’” Paul said. “There’s space for dialogue. There’s also space for a small kind of making and exploratory artistic practice for people to linger a little longer.”

The idea of lingering and making art together is one of Sister Trillium’s long-term goals.

“We hope to eventually have space for people to linger and to connect with each other and share skills,” Bryant said.

Asked about the name, Bryant said Sister Trillium is an homage to the Bread & Puppet enterprise in Vermont.

“They have different prints that say, ‘Sister frying pan’ or ‘brother mountain,’” Bryant said. “I really liked that sense of familiarity and community and connection that the word ‘sister’ embodies.”

As for Trillium, Bryant said, the trillium flower is the Ohio state wildflower and resembles the recycle symbol.

“We also got excited when we were doing more research on trillium,” Bryant said. “They are a part of a group of plants that take part in a circular dance where ants come and collect the seeds and help disperse them in the nearby area. We really liked that visual image for what we’re doing — collective work in action.”

And that’s what Bryant, Paul and Hertzler hope visitors to Sister Trillium’s booth at the farmers market will experience — affordable supplies curated by artists to make art more accessible. Paul said the goal is to have people be able to touch, sample and commune with fellow artists and creators to make something new. While some items will be priced, most can be purchased by making a small donation.

“It’s expensive to make art,  and I think people want to be able to try things, explore and play. I want that for myself as an artist,” Paul said. “I hope that this space will do that for folks on a regular basis.”

Sister Trillium will be selling items at the Yellow Springs Farmers’ Market beginning Saturday, April 22. Donation information can be found online via instagram @sistertrillium,  by emailing or through the Yellow Springs Community Foundation website under YS Creative Reuse.

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One Response to “‘Sister Trillium’ group to recycle art supplies”

  1. Beau says:

    Brilliant! That is an idea that just makes me smile and wonder why it wasn’t thought of sooner! It will be a sassy asset to the market and the creatives will come! Absolutely Brilliant!

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